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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

the impulse to art

coffee art by Kazuki Yamamoto

coffee art by Kazuki Yamamoto

This, my friends, is art. And better than anything else I can think of, it demonstrates our deep-set need to create beauty. The Dalai Lama says that any profession  – every profession – will be a calling to 1/3 of its workers. I would bet being a barista is just that to Kazuki Yamamoto: a calling. An art.

Aside from its loveliness, this piece of totally ephemeral art makes my beginner’s heart happy (despite my current mad-on for the inept tech support where I just lost a very important piece of deadline-driven work). It exists for no other purpose than the artist’s joy in its creation. And that, friends, is the best of artistic impulses.

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cleaning house, reprised

the author's

the author’s

As we come closer to moving — even though we no longer have a house under contract, nor do we know when we’ll find one! — I’m getting ever more serious about ‘cleaning house.’ Which means that we emptied the storage unit. We cleaned out the attic. And I’m through all the easy passes on my (numerous) books. Now we’re into hard choices.

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We’re also into interesting learning, if that makes sense. Do those of us who love books (and boy, do I LOVE books) keep them to reread? Do we keep them because the tangible presence of the book reifies our first and/or later reding experience(s)? Or do we keep them to impress others with our full bookshelves (I sooo hope I don’t do this!),?

If I thought I’d read them again, I’d keep far more books. But right now, I don’t even know if I’ll have a study! OR if it will be large enough to have my book case right beside my desk, as it is now. Certainly with my current set-up, I pull out the dictionary of music for poetry terms, sometimes. Or an anthology I dearly love — No More Masks! — to read a poet I miss. And the Writer’s Market, the Synonym Finder…all my ‘tool’ books? I still pull them out frequently. But what about my collection of Billy Collins? Or Merwin? My collected Auden? How can I give those away? They’re such a part of me! And this doesn’t include all the books in the living room! TWICE what the picture shows; that’s just 1/2 of what we still have!

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laundry and blackberry pie

the author's

the author’s

This is my reward for a gruelling two weeks spent with the family my mother-in-law into a new, more secure  Alzheimer’s facility. It’s the break from the laundry fallout, as well. Since we’re all of Mom’s family who live near her, the rest of the family stays here (and we are grateful to have room!) when they come in. Still, having three other adults in the house is a bit crazy!

Today, they’re all gone, and while I miss the conversation & hugs, the quiet is soothing after a week filled with hard moments. I had just started what I think is the last load of laundry (there were at least 10!), then folding the tablecloth we used for dinners, and the matching napkins. When the pies dinged ready. Perfect timing!

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the author's two sleepy dogs

the author’s two sleepy dogs

As it turned out, there were four more loads of laundry. But two pies later — one for my husband (what kind of crazy person doesn’t like blackberries??), and one for all the rest of us — order is slowly creeping back into place. And silence that lovely, overlooked poultice for jangled nerves is working its magic. My beloved is taking a well-deserved nap, and I’m watching the dogs sleep in the afternoon light slanting over the rug in my study.

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Later, there will be left-behind keys to mail, phone calls to make, and various things necessary to finish up Mom’s move. Beds to make up with the clean sheets, and dinner to cook. But right now? This is the moment I’m breathing in deeply: the fragrance of pie crust cooling, mingle with the rich sweetness of hot, baked fruit. The snuffling of dogs dreaming peacefully. And the knowledge that today is enough.

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introductions

maki-p.deviantart.com

maki-p.deviantart.com

Recently I mentioned in a Facebook thread that I was interested in the Quaker meeting in my hometown. I’ve always been drawn to Quaker beliefs, ever since I read about Benjamin Franklin. Later, it was attending meetings with my sister-in-law. Still later (& more recently), I did scholarly research on a couple of prominent historical Quaker leaders. And do NOT forget the wonderful What does George Fox say? YouTube detailing the Quaker founding father’s beliefs.

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The combination of a deep historical commitment to both peace and social justice — reified early in their meetings by having women as well as men lead — appeals to me. Many Quaker beliefs, as far as I can tell from my readings, are at least contiguous with Buddhism, and often the two wisdom traditions overlap deeply.

via flickr

via flickr

I’ve been reading Friends Journal for years now, as I didn’t know where to go in my hometown to a meeting. The back of the Journal lists meetings in various cities and areas. But in my town, it said simply ‘Call for details.’ I’m uncomfortable calling strangers for spiritual guidance, it appears. 😉

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So when I found out a girlfriend attends meetings w/ her daughter, I asked about going with her. Within minutes (I am NOT exaggerating) I was connected via FaceBook, and asked to introduce myself.

And here’s today’s thought: how do you introduce yourself to a new spiritual community?? Where’s the etiquette for THAT, huh? Do you say…Hi! I’m moving, but in the meantime, could I come visit? I’ve always wanted to. That seems a bit…callow. But then, Hi! I did scholarly research on two of your historical leaders, and they’re super cool! sounds pretty shallow.

I asked the girlfriend I wanted to join in meeting. She’s one of the least ‘affected’ folks I know, and (of course!) said — Whatever, Britt. Well, remember me? The person who dropped out of creative writing THREE TIMES before I could bear to ‘introduce myself through my writing’…?? (True story, that.)

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How do you — you, personally — describe your spiritual journey-quest to strangers? Because chances are, I know NONE of these folks. And yes, they’re probably all super nice, or my friend wouldn’t go. But I don’t know them. And frankly? I’d rather discuss the deconstruction of sea slugs before sharing my (almost always maligned) spiritual beliefs. True, that.

via flickr

via flickr

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Beginnings are, as a famous sci-fi writer once said, such tenuous things. An introduction is just that: your first glimpse of who I am. I have no clue who you are, or which of the many hats I toss into the air at a moment’s notice to exchange for another I should ‘wear’ for you. And for sure you don’t want ALL my hats at once. So I struggle with what to highlight, what to elide. There seems far more ‘strategy’ about introductions than simply Hi. Here I am.

Here’s a question: introduce yourself to each other? To me? Or at least — tell me how you do it. I finally wrote some inane pat response ~ Thank you for the welcome! ~and let it go. Either they’ll get to know me personally or not. The end. But you? You guys I’ve been talking to for years, some of you. I’d love to know more about you.

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